Know Your Enemy - College World Series Edition: Florida

Yeah, don't worry - we know exactly how this happened. via www2.tbo.com

F--- it, we already know these guys pretty well. Vandy is 1-3 against Florida in 2011, with their last loss coming in the Finals of the SEC Tournament. The 'Dores only win came with Monday's starter Grayson Garvin on the mound in a 14-1 thrashing during the regular season. Let's go to the game recaps and see how this rivalry has shaken out:

The regular season series: Florida won 2 games to 1. Vanderbilt's bullpen imploded to hand the Gators two wins in what had been the most important series at Hawkins Field until the NCAA Tournament rolled around. Closer Navery Moore will be looking for revenge after failing to shut down Florida in either of his regular season appearances against the Gators. Moore finished with an ERA of 16.20 against UF for 2011.

Game 1 - Florida 6, Vanderbilt 5: Disruptive weather hijacked the 'Dores' momentum, turning a Friday night lead into Saturday's loss in a game that was suspended due to storms across the Nashville area. Sonny Gray headed to the dugout Friday night with six innings of two-hit baseball and a 4-2 lead under his belt, but the team was unable to sustain his momentum the next day. The Vandy bullpen allowed four UF runs, including a rare blown save from Navery Moore, to allow the Gators to steal the win.

Moore came into the ninth with a 5-4 lead, but gave that up with just two pitches, allowing a leadoff home run to Josh Adams. A RBI double four batters later would give Florida the margin they needed to win the game. Though Vandy put the heart of their order at the plate for the bottom of the ninth, they couldn't mount any offense against Austin Maddox.

Game 2 - Vanderbilt 14, Florida 1: Just 40 minutes after the end of game one, the Commodores exacted revenge in a big way, rebounding to post a 14-1 pounding of the Gators and setting up a pivotal Sunday showdown. Grayson Garvin picked up his 11th win of the season with seven solid innings on the mound, striking out six and allowing only one run against a talented UF offense. Aaron Westlake's fifth inning grand slam opened the floodgate for the 'Dores and capped a five-RBI day for the fourth-year junior.

Game 3 - Florida 6, Vanderbilt 3 (12 innings): Missed opportunities were this game's overarching theme, as Vanderbilt failed to capitalize on run scoring opportunities even as Jack Armstrong pitched this team out of jams in 8th, 9th, and 10th innings. Vanderbilt put their leadoff batter on in the 9th, 10th, and 11th innings but couldn't produce a game-winning run, even with runners on third in consecutive innings. 

The SEC Tournament Final: Florida won 5-0. Vanderbilt suffered their second shutout of the season (the first came against Kentucky and Alex Meyer) to cede the SEC title to the Gators. The loss prevented the 'Dores from having a shot at the #1 national seed in the NCAA Tournament and instead dropped them to #6.

Game 4 - Florida 5, Vanderbilt 0: Despite playing fewer games in Hoover than Florida, it was the Gators who looked like the fresher team in the deciding game of the SEC Tournament. Taylor Hill was his usual steady self on the mound, allowing just one earned run and striking out eight batters in seven innings of work, but a lack of support from the Commodore bats entitled him to the tough-luck loss, his first of the season. Despite nine hits, including five from the 7-9 batters in the lineup, Vanderbilt was unable to plate even one run. Alex Panteliodis earned the win for Florida with 5.1 solid innings of work.

After three losses to the Gators, revenge will be the running undercurrent of every Vanderbilt at-bat Monday night. The 'Dores were able to gain vengeance after dropping a 2-1 series to South Carolina by rolling over them in the SEC Tournament, but the team wasn't able to carry that momentum into a title-deciding game against Florida. Can Vandy use the bad feelings between the two teams to put them one win from the Finals? Or will the spectre of three demoralizing UF wins mean that the team will be digging themselves out of a hole before the first pitch is even thrown?

We'll find out tonight, as the stakes in the Vanderbilt-Florida rivalry have never been higher.

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